(CNSNews.com) - New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan on Thursday declared a state of emergency following dozens of recent drug overdoses involving the synthetic cannabinoid known as 'Smacked!'.
"These products pose a serious threat to public health, especially to young people, and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to combat the recent rash of overdoses," Governor Hassan said.
"In consultation with the New Hampshire Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, public health officials in the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General's office, I have declared a State of Emergency so that we can move quickly to stop the sale of this dangerous substance that has caused an outbreak of serious overdoses."
In the past four days alone, at least 41 people in the Manchester area have experienced serious medical reactions to the synthetic cannabinoid "Smacked!' and at least 20 were taken by ambulance to Manchester hospitals for treatment. In addition, the Concord Police Department has reported at least three cases so far this week.
The state of emergency will allow public health officials to quarantine and destroy the "Bubblegum Flavor" of "Smacked!", which the declaration describes as an "imminent peril to public health."
The governor's office said samples of at least two other brands of synthetic cannabinoids, "Crazy Monkey" and "Green Giant," have tested positive for controlled substances. Although they are not blamed for recent overdoses, they are illegal to sell in N.H.
"Stores are encouraged to voluntarily remove all synthetic cannabinoids from their shelves," the news release said.
Generally referred to as "spice," synthetic cannabinoids are chemically engineered substances that mimic the active ingredient in marijuana. While their labels say they are not for human consumption, these "herbal incense" products are often smoked or brewed into a tea.
The governor's state of emergency declaration will last for 21 days unless terminated earlier or extended by further order.